‘The Imam [or priest] fainted’ is the literal translation of the name for this Turkish dish of cold tomato-stuffed aubergine. It is odd how many cultures have dishes called things to do with clerics and their fondness for the table. The Italians, for example, have a dish of spinach and ricotta dumplings called ‘priest-throttlers’.
In the case of this dish the Imam was so taken with how delicious the aubergine tasted he swooned, presumably after eating rather too many of them.
Cut off both ends of the aubergines. Forget about all this salting nonsense: if the aubergines are old and bitter, no amount of salting is going to change them for the better. Peel off 1-cm / ½-inch wide strips lengthwise to produce a striped effect. Cut down through one side the length of each aubergine, being careful not to cut all the way through.
Fry the onions and garlic gently in
Put the remaining oil in another pan and fry the aubergines over a moderate heat to seal them, turning to brown lightly all over. Remove and drain.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ gas 6. When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, carefully open each aubergine along the cut and spoon in as much stuffing as you can. Then arrange them, cut side up, in an ovenproof dish just large enough for them to sit snugly in a single layer without falling over. Spread any remaining stuffing over the top, pour over
Bake for about 45 minutes, when they should be tender but not collapsing. Check from time to time that they have not dried out, adding
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.